‘Crucial’ for UK to build electric car gigafactories
West Midlands Gigafactory give a CGI preview of factory plans
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There have been calls in recent years for the gigafactories to be established around the UK to boost the transition to electric vehicles and battery technology. In 2022, publicly announced investment for the vehicle manufacturing sector reached a total of £4.5billion, with major new commitments to electrification in Crewe and Merseyside.
This was down slightly from the potential £4.9billion announced in 2021, which included the proposed development of a new battery gigafactory in the West Midlands.
Alastair Cassels, partner and Head of Automotive Advisory at MHA, suggested that more should be invested in the UK to ensure that gigafactories are a significant contributor to the economy.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, he said: “To remain internationally competitive, the UK needs more domestic battery production.
“Investments in gigafactories, battery and recycling facilities will enable UK producers to create EV products that are more affordable for modest incomes and reduce our reliance on imported Chinese batteries.
“It is also crucial that the UK develops its own domestic batteries and energy storage as the geopolitical battleground for these commodities grows.”
According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, the UK automotive industry will require at least 60 gigawatt hours of locally sourced batteries by 2030.
This goal would support the annual assembly of one million new cars, below today’s 1.3 million capacity.
“Ultimately, the UK remains in danger of falling behind the US and other European neighbours in terms of investment in EV technology.
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“The Government must use the Spring Budget to boost confidence in the sector and reinforce its pledge of decarbonising the transport sector.”
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt will unveil the Government’s Budget next week as experts anticipate whether any additional funding will be given to turn the UK into an EV superpower.
In January, the UK’s EV battery manufacturing front runner, Britishvolt, entered administration, with around 300 staff being made redundant.
The firm had planned to build a £3.8billion gigafactory in Blyth, Northumberland, designed to manufacture batteries for electric vehicles.
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Ministers had heralded the site as being a “levelling up” opportunity to show the UK was serious about its future as a zero emission producer of vehicles.
Despite this, the company struggled with funding and construction goals before eventually succumbing to administration.
Australian startup Recharge Industries took over the collapsed firm after striking a deal in late February.
Ginny Buckley, Founder and CEO of Electrifying.com, said the move was positive, but other factors would also need to be addressed.
She said: “While the acquisition of Britishvolt by Australian start-up Recharge Industries is good news for the green energy transition thanks to its plan to produce, it would appear to do very little to help secure the future of the UK’s car industry.
“Recharge Industries’ plan only mentions the production of batteries for high-performance vehicles and there is no mention of supplying mass-market affordable electric vehicles. Because of this, the UK risks losing its competitive edge on the global stage as production electrifies.”
Ms Buckley warned that this was “bad news” for the UK car industry which is already “faltering”, with Nissan now the only mainstream company manufacturing electric cars here.
The expert warned that the country is at serious risk of simply becoming an “assembly line”, putting together pieces of a jigsaw puzzle rather than pioneering the way when it comes to battery production.
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